I just got back from our weekend trip to Jinja. It was a good weekend, and pretty relaxing. They treat us well on our little excursions. We got to Jinja in time for dinner on Friday. We stayed the weekend at Kingfisher Safari Resort, which was really nice. We stayed in little huts, complete with inside toilets (with toilet paper!) and showers, which are nice when normally we are locked into our houses at night, and using the toilet is not an option unless you want to use a bucket in your room. And not having to worry about whether you need to bring your own toilet paper to the restroom is always great too :)
Friday evening we listened to three missionaries (a couple, and then a 23-year-old girl) who work with prison ministries in Jinja. I heard part of their story of how they got to Uganda, and it was so amazing. There is no denying that God wanted them to be right where they are now. Anytime they were unsure where to go, or what to do next, a door opened up. If they needed money, someone would call the next day and offer to give them the exact amount. For example, they felt led to go somewhere else, but they needed to do something with their house, and that night one of their friends called and said that he wanted to move to their area, and needed a place to rent. He said he wanted a place similar to where the couple lived, and then named their mortgage as what he’d be willing to pay. They made a deal right then. Everything just fell into place. I am sure they had hard times, but the way they told it, it was so obvious that God was leading them in every decision. In Jinja, they teach the truths of the Bible to combat all the false teachers that are so popular in Uganda. The prosperity gospel is everywhere in Uganda, and many people buy into it. Literally. I believe the husband leads a Bible school, and the two women minister in the condemned ward in the women’s prison.
After they spoke, we had dinner at the resort, and it was delicious. The meat didn’t have any bones or excess fat in it, and there were a lot of fruits and vegetables. The fruit is just wonderful here. There is a pool at the resort, so after we ate some of us went swimming. It felt so refreshing to be in cold water, and not have to worry about the cleanliness or the prevalence of parasites in the water. Then we got actual showers (instead of splash baths out of a bucket), and went to bed.
In the morning they had an amazing breakfast prepared, with made-to-order omelets, wheat toast and a variety of jams, and cereal and milk! They had a chocolate cereal that was so so tasty. They also had real coffee and different types of teas. We all ate a lot that morning.
After breakfast we drove to The Source Café, and listened to a missionary there talk about the differences between Ugandan and American culture. It was really helpful, and maybe another time I will highlight some of those differences. We had lunch there, then went on a devotional tour of Jinja, led by the missionary. We went to one of the tees on a golf course (where you can golf for only $5) which overlooked the source of the Nile. We were told about the man who discovered the source, and how he risked his life to find it. We were then asked what we were searching so hard for in this life, and what would be our source of life.
The next stop on the tour was what used to be called the Beverly Hills of Uganda. We stopped outside a Hindu temple, and across the street were old, huge houses, with some windows broken out and paint coming off the sides. We could imagine how it looked in its glory days, with palms lining the smooth road that had a nicely painted curb, and huge houses surrounded by gates. These were all owned by Indians who were very wealthy businessmen in Jinja. When Idi Amin came into power, he gave all the Indians 3 months to leave the country, and would not let them take anything with them. Amin put Ugandans in the houses, and gave them the Indian businesses. Now the houses have a family living in each room, so there may be 20 families in one of the houses. This was used as an example of what we want to be left behind when we are gone. What kind of legacy do we want to leave? What stories do we want to be told about us?
The third stop was at what they called the ‘ting ting’. We just walked single file among these little tin-covered huts where men were hammering away on metal (where the name ting ting comes from), and soldering things together, taking scrap pieces of metal and making them into useful things. Then we were told that we had so many opportunities in life. We can do whatever we want to. So what are we going to do with our lives? Will we make them useful? What will we live for?
The final stop of the tour may have been the hardest for everyone. We went to the main hospital in all of Jinja, and were told to just walk through some of the wards. They were just big hallways with beds lining the walls, and family members would sleep on mats on the floor next to the ill person so they could take care of them. We were told of one man who went and was there for 3 weeks before he ever saw a doctor. I think what was hardest for all of us was just that we felt like we were walking through and staring…like they were animals and we were at a zoo. We only had 5 minutes to walk around, so that’s not any amount of time to explain what we’re doing and why a bunch of young white people just walked in and walked out. The lesson we were to take from the hospital visit was that many missionaries come thinking they can make so many changes, and after about a year they usually become cynical or lose all hope. We were just encouraged that we can’t save the world, and that burden is lifted from our shoulders…if we felt it there in the first place.
It was overall a good tour, and we got to see parts of Jinja that we would not have otherwise. We went back to the Resort and most of us then went on a small boat to the source of the Nile, and then floated down the Nile for a bit. I have touched the Nile River. Awesome. One of the guys drank some of the Nile River…then realized it may have been the stupidest thing he’s done because we don’t know what is in that water. Mostly we just saw birds in the trees along the bank though. We were in two boats, and one stopped at the island where the water changes direction and they got to walk around, but it cost money to park the boats, and our driver didn’t have any shillings with him. It was still a neat experience. We went back and played Frisbee in the pool, and then showered and went to dinner. Most of us had pizza and milkshakes. It was pretty tasty. I just realized food updates are becoming prevalent in these updates, but when you get something other than matoke, rice, and beans, it’s a pretty special occasion.
Church on Sunday was exciting. We stayed for both services, then went for lunch and traveled back to campus to study before having to go back to our houses for the night. Anyway, at each service our group led two songs, and one of the students preached. Church reminded me a lot of camp this summer. We sang a song that I’m pretty sure was copied from “Cast Your Burdens”, because I think I heard that phrase, and then we did some ‘higha-highas’ and ‘lowa-lowas’. The guy spoke on being fruitful and rooted in God, and mentioned John 15, and I’ve been singing “Abide in Me” all day (which was our camp theme song…and John 15 were the theme verses for the summer). Then the children’s choir marched in singing “We Are Marching in the Light of God”. And their choir was amazing. They had a song playing, and the boy who was the leader was lip-synching to it, while the rest of the kids sang background and danced. And he had some moves too. It was hilarious, but awesome. Then they recited two memory verses, and went back out to Sunday School.
Overall, it was a great weekend, but now it is back to reality and homework and deadlines. Such is life, but life is good. I feel refreshed and ready to keep the days coming. Thanks for reading!! :)